Chicago hits 500 homicides for 2016 after deadly Labor Day weekend

The nation’s third largest city reached the grim toll of 500 homicides for the year after tallying 13 fatal shootings over the Labor Day weekend, police said.

The holiday weekend killings, along with dozens of non-fatal shootings, come after police recorded 92 murders in August, the deadliest month for Chicago since June 1993. With murders up roughly 50% for the year, Chicago has tallied more murders than much larger cities New York and Los Angeles combined.

The latest fatal shooting occurred around 10:45 p.m. Monday on the city’s West Side, when someone in a silver mini-van opened fire on a group of teens and young men, police said. Two 22-year-old men were killed in the incident — and three others, ages 16, 17, and 20 — were seriously wounded. Authorities said one of the men killed was a documented gang member. Police were searching for suspects Tuesday.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blames the recent surge in killings on increased gang activity and gun laws he says are too weak to be an effective deterrent. The city is on pace to record well over 600 murders for 2016, a threshold it has not reached since 2003. In the 1990s, in the midst of gang violence driven by the crack-cocaine epidemic, Chicago regularly recorded more than 700 murders per year.

The city recorded 473 murders in 2015, according to police department data. Chicago surpassed the 500 homicide threshold over the holiday weekend, according to data tracked by the Chicago Tribune.

Over this Labor Day weekend, the city experienced the most jarring spasm of violence over 14 hours on Monday, when nine people were killed.

In a fatal shooting on the city’s Southwest Side, a 24-year-old man and 47-year-old man were killed in a shooting near a city park. The older victim told authorities before he died at a nearby hospital that he was walking a dog in the park when he heard gunfire from a vehicle. The second victim began running when he heard the gunfire and was struck as well, police department spokeswoman Officer Anna Pacheco said.

It’s unclear what, if any relationship, the two victims had.

Around 6:48 p.m. Monday, a 33-year-old man was killed in a drive-by shooting in the city’s Englewood neighborhood on the city’s South Side, one of the neighborhoods most plagued by gun violence. Someone in a light-colored vehicle opened fire at the man, striking him in the back, Pacheco said. The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

About 4 p.m., a 44-year-old man suffered fatal wounds to his head, neck and back. Police said witnesses noticed several people in a white van harassing the victim, who was in his own vehicle, before the shooting.

“The victim was attempting to get away when an occupant of the van fired several shots, striking the victim,” Pacheco said. “The victim’s vehicle then struck three parked vehicles."

About 1:25 p.m., police were called to a home on the city’s Brighton Park neighborhood, where they found a 22-year-old man lying dead in his driveway with a large chest wound. He also appeared to suffer several stab wounds to the chest, police said.

Police said a 24-year-old man was fatally shot in the city’s Englewood neighborhood and a second man, 26, was critically wounded. Authorities said both victims had known gang ties, and the 26-year-old man, who was wounded in the thigh and suffered a graze wound to the head, is refusing to cooperate with investigators.

Police were called to a residence on the South Side early Monday morning, where they found an 80-year-old man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the face. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pacheco said the suspect, who has been arrested but not yet charged, shot the elderly man after an argument.


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